This is the sermon for Sunday, April 10th 2011.

Matthew part 3

Wise men still seek Him.

Matthew 2:1-12 NIV – 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”  9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Introduction

Our text this morning is one that is often preached only during the month of December, but rarely preached during the rest of the year.  Well, we are going to be unpacking it this morning.

I’ve used as the title of my sermon an expression that is heard during Christmas time and I believe it too be true: Wise men still seek Him.  You see, to seek after Christ and His Word is one of the wisest things that we can do, unfortunately many don’t seek after Him unless it is a holiday, or they are going through difficult times.  The rest of the time, Christ is on the back-burner.  We don’t want to be sold out completely too Him, neither do we want to be totally abandoning Him, so we just “sit on the fence as it were.”  But God’s Word does not give us that “sitting on the fence” option.  We are either all the way in, or all the way out.

Now chapter 2 doesn’t deal so much with Jesus saying things or doing things, but the main characters are others within the chapter.  We see Herod, who wants to kill Him, the Magi (wise men) who are search for Him, and Joseph and Mary, who are protecting Him.

It is interesting that the wisest people within our text are not the Pharisees – they should have made a bee-line to the cave and worshipped Jesus, nor is it Herod – who should have laid his crown at the Baby’s feet, but it is Gentile astrologers – who search for the child for one reason: to worship Him.

What should be our primary motivation for seeking Jesus?  It shouldn’t be for the blessings and benefits; or some type of answering our prayers; or delivering us out of problems; but it should be for one main reason – simply to worship Him.

Let’s begin unpacking our text this morning.

A star leads them.

Matthew 2:1-2 – 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Background of the Magi.

  • Not much is really known concerning these men.  Tradition tells us there were three of them, but we really don’t know.  There could have been three, there could have been dozens or even perhaps hundreds.
  • Magi is a Persian word which means, “Experts of the stars.”  So they probably were Persian or Babylonian in race.  So these are not Jews, but pagan Gentiles.
  • But notice what they are doing that the experts in the Jewish Law are not: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
  • They saw this sudden appearance of a star, and took this as a heavenly sign that the King of the Jews had been born.

What was this star that lead them?

  • There are a lot of theories and speculation concerning this.
  • Some think that it was Jupiter and Saturn aligning.
  • Some think it was perhaps a comet, the constellation Pisces, or some type of sun that had gone supernova.
  • I personally believe that this star wasn’t an ordinary star, but was the glory of God itself shining and declaring the birth of the Messiah.
  • There is another theory that I have read recently of how the Magi could have known that this star was about the King of the Jews being born.  When Judah was in captivity to Babylon, they brought the scrolls of the Torah with them.  Perhaps they had left some there in Persia when they returned from exile.  The Magi, being learned men, would have studied all the holy books of the different cultures and societies in the area.  If so, they would have found this unusual messianic prophecy given by Balaam in the Torah Scrolls.

Numbers 24:17 – “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.

  • We have something more majestic and permanent than that star that the Magi saw which leads us to Christ – that this is His Holy Word.  That is the main message of the Bible.

A king tried to deceive them.

Matthew 2:3-8 – 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

Background on Herod.

  • Though Herod was king of Judea, he was not physically a Jew.  He was Idumean in race.
  • He was Jewish in his religion, but he was also a very wicked man.  Let me read a short quote from the Unger Bible Commentary concerning Herod: “Herod was not only an Idumaean in race and a Jew in religion, but he was a heathen in practice and a monster in character.”

Herod was trying to deceive not only the Magi, but the teachers of the Law and chief priests.

  • Notice what our text says, “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed”.
  • Herod had no desire to worship the Messiah and turn over his royal throne, as we shall see later within the text, but he wanted to find Him and kill Him.
  • As we contextualize for a few moments, in the same way the devil and our own flesh will fight against the revelation of Jesus Christ found within the pages of the Bible to the point of trying to deceive.

Jesus is revealed to the Magi.

Matthew 2:9-11 – 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The Magi is led again by this star.

  • Here is another reason why I feel that this star is a supernatural one, not just a natural one: “the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” This shows us supernatural activity.  This star rose, went ahead, and stopped over where the Messiah was.

The Magi rejoiced over this sign and worshiped the child.

  • When God’s Word reveals to us Jesus Christ, it stirs within our hearts a sense of wonder and worship and we rejoice in the salvation that He has purchased for us through His shed blood.

God protects them.

Matthew 2:12 – And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

  • Here we see another supernatural event – God warns the Magi not to return by a dream.
  • God protects His true revelation of Jesus Christ to us by revealing Himself to us through Gospel preaching.
  • He preserves those He saves with the same method of revelation leading to salvation – the Gospel.

Conclusion

True wisdom is found in seeking after Jesus Christ.  The one revelation that God has given us concerning Jesus and our great salvation that is found in Him is through His Holy Word.  Be thankful for this revelation that is given to us both through the written page, and the proclamation by preaching.

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